Banana Flaxseed Muffins

muffins1At the beginning of each October, my university has a so-called “fall break” which is actually nothing more than a 3-day weekend. I’m totally on board with the idea of this mini-vacation, but its actual application seems pretty half-hearted. If you’re going to call it a break, make it a break! Three days was just long enough for me to make the 7-hour journey home, collapse into relaxing familiarity for 40-some hours, and then tear myself away to drive all the way back to school. It felt more like a teaser than anything else, especially for a homebody like myself. Still, I’m grateful for my brief recharge at home, and I need to keep reminding myself that relaxation often morphs into boredom after too many days. Okay, maybe not 2 measly days, but let’s stay positive!

One of my projects during my time at home was to re-stock the freezer with easy grab-and-go breakfasts for my mom. She’s not exactly a morning person, and I know for a fact that breakfast is virtually the last thing on her mind as she gets ready for work. You know someone like that, too? Good. Make them these muffins!muffins2

These Banana Flaxseed Muffins are perfect for a quick, healthy breakfast. I like to make a full batch ahead of time and store them in the freezer for those busy mornings. They can be made gluten-free, but you can also use a mixture of whole wheat and all-purpose flour if gluten isn’t an issue. Unlike so many muffins that are basically frosting-less cupcakes, these are full of healthy ingredients to give you an energy boost without the crash. Bananas serve as the main sweetener, and they also lend the muffins a soft, moist texture. Flaxseed brings in some heart-healthy fat, and warm spices give the muffins extra flavor. You can even make them vegan by using agave nectar and soy or almond milk!

I love knowing that my mom now has a few weeks’ supply of muffins for breakfast, settled right next to the chili I made for my dad (which he will most likely not eat for breakfast, just so we’re clear). I’m sure they’re capable of fending for themselves (after all, they managed just fine until I came along) but I also know how much they miss my cooking and baking! Make your own friends and family happy by baking them a batch of these Banana Flaxseed Muffins. There’s nothing like a pre-made, homemade, healthy, on-hand breakfast to show them that you care!muffins4

Banana Flaxseed Muffins

Makes one dozen standard-size muffins

1 & 3/4 cups gluten-free flour blend (or all-purpose flour)

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (if using gf flour)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 medium ripe bananas, mashed

1/2 cup milk (I used soy milk)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup agave nectar or honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons ground flaxseed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line or grease a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, milk, oil, agave, vanilla, and flaxseed. Using a rubber spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until no flour streaks remain. Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tins.

Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 13-17 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

(Recipe adapted from Anecdotes and Apples)

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Frozen Chocolate Banana Bites

IMG_2533“Did you MAKE these?!” my father asked with his mouth full, turning the the half-eaten object in his hand from side to side with an expression of glee.

“Um, yes.” I replied.

“What is IN them?”

“Dad, they’re banana slices dipped in chocolate. And frozen. That’s it.”

“Really?!”

“Really.”

“You could sell these at [name of expensive restaurant in our town] for lots and lots of money. Seriously, serve them up on a fancy platter and no one would ever know the difference.”

“Haha.”

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All jokes aside, these frozen chocolate banana bites have serious show-stopping potential, despite their short list of ingredients and the minimal effort involved in making them. All I did was melt together some dark chocolate chips with a little peanut butter (because in my world, where there is chocolate, peanut butter must follow), dunk banana slices in the mixture, and sprinkle a little shredded coconut over the tops. Then I froze them. Thirty minutes later I had a Tupperware full of delicious chocolatey treats that my family couldn’t believe I had created all by myself. Of course in reality it was probably the easiest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life, practically kinda sorta.IMG_2540

These really are some of the easiest treats I’ve ever made, but they taste so fantastic! According to my (questionably hyperbolic) father, they just might be “the best” things I’ve ever made. The frozen banana tastes remarkably similar to vanilla ice cream, tucked inside a shell of dark chocolate with just a hint of peanut butter. The coconut sprinkled on top was the icing on the cake for our family, but if you aren’t a coconut fan (oh, the horror!) just leave it off. Although you probably didn’t need me to tell you that, you intelligent people you.

So basically, in a matter of 15 minutes you can be popping these babies in the freezer. No sink full of dirty dishes, no oven heating up your house, no excessive amount of time suddenly robbed from your day. And you get a ton of frozen chocolate banana bites out of it. You’re welcome!IMG_2556

Frozen Chocolate Banana Bites

2 bananas, sliced into 1/2-inch disks

1 cup chocolate chips

1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter*

Shredded coconut, for sprinkling

Directions:

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper or aluminum foil. Set aside.

Place the chocolate chips and peanut butter in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water (or use a double boiler if you have one). Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Working quickly, use a fork to dip each banana slice in the melted chocolate and coat it entirely, then transfer to the prepared cookie sheet. When all the banana slices are covered in chocolate, sprinkle with shredded coconut if desired.

Put the cookie sheet in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, or until the chocolate has hardened, and then transfer the banana bites to an airtight container. Enjoy these straight out of the freezer!

*If needed, you can omit the peanut butter and melt a teaspoon of butter or coconut oil along with the chocolate instead.

 

Flourless Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Banana Muffins

IMG_0388First of all…Happy 2nd Anniversary to Emma’s Baking Addiction! I can’t believe that two years ago I sat down and created a WordPress account with no idea what I was doing. Sometimes I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, but it’s been fun 🙂

These muffins were made with my mother in mind. My poor gluten-free, dairy-free mother, who has to watch as piles of cookies, ice cream, brownies and other taboo treats fill our kitchen, knowing she can’t have them. She never complains, not once, but I try to make sure that I create a fair share of gluten-free, dairy-free baked goods as well.

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The last mom-friendly treats I made were these awesome little energy balls, but they were eaten up in approximately 12 seconds, give or take a couple days. The problem with gluten-free treats is that they are also accessible and perfectly acceptable to the gluten-eaters in the house, and unless I clearly label treats as being “FOR MOM” (or hide them), they disappear way too quickly. Which is why, after the last three blog posts centered around cookies and ice cream, it was time to make these muffins.

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What these muffins do have: peanut butter, chocolate, & banana (one of the ULTIMATE flavor trios), heart-healthy flaxseed, and a handful of other healthy ingredients. What these muffins do not have: FLOUR, gluten, dairy, or more than two tablespoons of refined sugar. What these muffins require: a bowl, a spoon, a muffin tin, and some measuring cups. That’s it! They don’t require worrying about over-mixing (which can create tough muffins, but ONLY if there’s gluten involved) or dirtying up a million little bowls and spoons. Easy as cake muffins!

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The best part is that, despite their considerably healthy list of ingredients and their lack of flour, these muffins are not lacking in flavor or texture! They have a wonderful soft, dense-yet-springy texture and are smooth and rich. The peanut butter/chocolate/banana flavors really shine through, and the muffins are full of flavor but not overly sweet. They were a huge hit in our house for both the gluten-free eater (my mom) and all the other eaters. They were so popular, in fact, that I had to take my mother aside and let her in on my little secret: I had snatched a few muffins from the communal container and hidden them away in a tupperware in the freezer. That way she could snack on them whenever she saw fit, safe from all other muffin-eaters. If you feel the need to hide away a few of these muffins for yourself, you won’t see me judging you!!

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Flourless Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Banana Muffins

1 cup mashed banana (from about 2 medium-large bananas)

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup honey or agave nectar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed (optional)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin.

Mix together all of the ingredients in a large bowl until well-combined. Divide evenly among muffin cups, filling about 3/4 of the way. Bake for 5 minutes, then decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the muffin tops spring back when lightly touched and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in the muffin tins for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edges of each muffin and carefully remove to a cooling rack. Store the muffins in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

(Recipe inspired by Averie Cooks and Detoxinista)

Roasted Banana Ice Cream

IMG_4743 I always have been and always will be a banana-lover. Yes, yes, I know that many people will tell you that bananas are starchy fruits that are quite high in sugar, and some nutritionists practically consider them taboo, but they just have too many good things going on to be removed from your (or at least my!) diet. Slightly under-ripe bananas actually have a much lower glycemic index than ripe ones (meaning that they digest more slowly and won’t cause as much of a blood-sugar spike) and are full of probiotics. While super ripe bananas have more quickly-absorbed sugar, they also are rich in cancer-preventing antioxidants. Basically, you win either way. (And no, I promise that a. this isn’t going to become a nutrition blog, and b. I am not being compensated by any banana company or anything of the sort to say a bunch of wonderful things. I just really love bananas.)

And that’s not all! Bananas are also a great source of electrolytes (I almost always have half a banana after a long run), mashed banana is a great substitute for oil/butter/etc. in many recipes, bananas’ natural sweetness lends itself to baked goods (meaning that you can cut down the refined sugar when creating a recipe with bananas) and they also give baked goods a soft, moist texture. Not to mention their delicious flavor! IMG_4744 Now that we’ve established that I really really love bananas, let’s bake with them! Roasted Banana Ice Cream is on the menu for today, and it’s one of the most delicious ice creams I’ve ever made. The roasting bananas made my kitchen smell like bananas foster, and the resulting ice cream was perfectly thick, smooth, and full of caramely-banana flavor. It comes together much more easily than custard-based homemade ice cream, and has a considerably less sugar and fat than many ice cream recipes due to the sweet, thickening bananas. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this is healthy ice cream, but that’s not really the point when it comes to ice cream. At least not in my opinion.

Celebrate the first month of summer with a bowl of Roasted Banana Ice Cream! It would be amazing drizzled with caramel sauce, hot fudge, melted peanut butter (omg), or chopped nuts. Or in another delicious form, which may be coming soon to Emma’s Baking Addiction (hint, hint…). I need to roast bananas more often, because when I do, amazing things happen. Happy eating! IMG_4745   Roasted Banana Ice Cream

Yield: about 1 quart

3 medium ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices

1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

1 tablespoon butter, cut into small chunks

1 & 1/2 cups whole milk

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 & 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the banana slices in an 8″x8″ baking pan and toss them with the brown sugar and butter pieces. Roast uncovered for 25-40 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until the banana slices are lightly browned and caramelized.

Place the bananas (and all the syrupy mixture from the pan) into a blender or food processor. Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a bowl or large (4-cup) measuring cup and chill for at least 8 hours. Then pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Serve immediately (at a soft-serve consistency) or freeze the ice cream until firm.

(Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, originally from The Perfect Scoop)

Banana Maple Muffins

On my front porch sits my Jack O’Lantern.  Three weeks ago, when I bought my pumpkin from the local pumpkin patch on our island, it was firm and healthy, orange with a few streaks of green on the back.  Two weeks ago, when I carved into it, my pumpkin was still young and fresh, emitting that sweet, earthy pumpkin smell and full of moist, slimy seeds.  On Halloween, my Jack O’Lantern stood proudly on the stoop, smiling its toothy grin and glowing with candlelight.  Last weekend, I noticed that my pumpkin looked a little saggy.  Its skin was starting to droop and wrinkle, and when I peered inside that toothy grin I spotted a very colorful field of mold growing inside.  Disgusted, I hurried away.  So there it sat.  A few days ago my pumpkin fell off its perch and onto the porch, where it lies in a mildewy puddle of water, a crumbled mess of wrinkly orange skin and moldy speckled flesh.  And there it lies today.

Why haven’t I taken a garbage bag and scooped up my rotting pumpkin remains?  Why haven’t I taken a shovel and hauled it off into the woods to decompose away from the welcome mat of my home?  Good questions.  An even better question would be, why didn’t I pick my pumpkin up off the steps on November first, back when it was still firm and mold-free, and dispose of it like a normal human being?  I have no idea.  For some reason, the more times I walk up the porch steps and spot my sad, sorry mess of a Jack O’Lantern rotting on the ground, the less likely I feel I am to get rid of it.  It’s kind of a little game I’m playing, waiting to see how long it will take before either I or an unlucky member of my family finally breaks down and gets rid of that soggy mess.  Considering the fact that we still have our Christmas lights up (from last year), it could be a while.  I’m half hoping that my pumpkin will just decompose into the wood on the porch or slip down the cracks to the ground below…or something.  I think I’m giving the word “laziness” a new definition.

The good news is, I don’t like to make the same mistake twice.  We had two large bananas sitting in the fruit bowl for quite a while.  As new bunches of ripe yellow bananas got purchased by unknowing family members and placed next to the two brown-spotted bananas, the two old ones kept getting passed up for the new.  It was a sad process to watch; the old bananas kept getting browner and browner, shoved aside for the fresh ones.  Determined not to see this poor pair of fruits suffer the same fate as my Halloween pumpkin, I set myself on a mission…because the best thing to do with brown bananas is bake with them!  Enter these Banana Maple Muffins.  The combination of sweet bananas, rich maple syrup, and a touch of cinnamon and allspice results in a wonderfully moist, sweet muffin.  I also decided to use half whole wheat flour which a) makes them healthier and b) gives the muffins a great hearty texture.  These are a huge step above your everyday common muffins that are virtually unfrosted cupcakes.

I still feel sorry for my squished little pumpkin, but at least these bananas ended up in the form of delicious muffins!  If you have brown bananas, definitely make these.  It will make you feel like you’ve done a good deed!  Or maybe I just need to suck it up and take two minutes to throw away my pumpkin so that I can stop feeling the need to redeem myself by saving two brown bananas…regardless, all these decisions led me to these amazing muffins.  And for that I am glad.

 

Banana Maple Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp allspice

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup mashed bananas (from about 2 large bananas)

3 Tbs vegetable oil

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup pure maple syrup (dark amber is best)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a 12-tin muffin pan with paper liners or spray with baking spray.  Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, allspice, and cinnamon.  In a large bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, vegetable oil, sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla.  Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir just until combined.

Scoop batter into prepared muffin tins, filling each cup about 2/3 of the way.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops of muffins bounce back when lightly touched and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

(Recipe adapted from Baking Bites)

Biscoff Swirled Banana Bread

I’ve discovered that some foods, while delicious on their own, are about 10,000 times better when they are combined together.  Peanut butter and jelly, coconut and lime, raspberry and white chocolate, blueberry and lemon, chocolate and peanut butter, mint and chocolate, apple and cinnamon, the list goes on and on.  Literally on and on, as in I’m still thinking of more delicious combinations and I’d better stop right now or I’m going to lose readers because this post is going to consist entirely of my favorite flavor combinations and nothing else.  Moving on….

When I invested in a few jars of Biscoff Spread last month, I immediately began brainstorming ways of how to incorporate it into my baking.  I had to think quickly because I knew that if I didn’t act quickly, both jars would fall prey to being spread onto apples and graham crackers, stuffed into sandwiches, and eaten by the spoonful, thus my baking projects would be sadly void of Biscoff Spread.  I couldn’t let that happen, so I decided to start off with Biscoff White Chocolate Chip Blondies, which were a winning choice for sure.

Then the question came of what to make next with my beloved new friend…cookies?  Cupcakes?  And then it came to me, as I spied a bunch of ripe bananas sitting on the counter.  I just knew that Biscoff and bananas were meant to be together, and it was up to me to make that happen.  I had been planning on making Buttermilk Banana Bread (see link below) for quite some time, since it appeared to be different than any banana breads I’ve made in the past.  While I’ve always been a big proponent for classic dense, moist, dark-flecked banana bread, this bread looked invitingly light in color and texture.  The perfect vehicle to be swirled with sweet, cinnamony Biscoff Spread.

Proud of my newfound food matchmaking skills, I got right to work.  I hid 3 bananas in my baking cupboard (there was absolutely no chance that they would survive to the point of over-ripeness while lying in plain sight on the counter), picked up some buttermilk at the store, and waited until my bananas were nice and brown.  Then I mixed up the banana bread batter, swirled in the Biscoff, and baked it up.  The result?  I think I’ve found a new favorite combination…Biscoff and banana 🙂  The tender, moist bread was bursting with banana flavor and the gooey ribbon of warm, spicy-sweet Biscoff took it up to another level.  This bread confirmed it; banana and Biscoff are most definitely soul mates!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biscoff Swirled Banana Bread

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 cup white sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3 large or 4 medium bananas)

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp baking soda

1/3 cup Biscoff cookie spread

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a large loaf pan (9.25″ x 5.25″).  Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the eggs, mashed bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla and beat until well-combined.  Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda until the batter is evenly mixed.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Drop the Biscoff Spread by spoonfuls onto the batter.  Using a knife, gently swirl in the Biscoff to create a marbled effect, but be careful not to mix it in too much.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or toothpick comes out clean.

Let the bread cool in its pan for at least 20 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack.  Cool, slice, and enjoy!

(Recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)